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What Are the Major DUI Penalties in Florida?

Gutin & Wolverton March 17, 2017

While there is no DWI in Florida, that doesn’t make the consequences (both legal and personal) and DUI penalties in Florida any less severe.

Here, we’re outlining everything you need to know about DUI penalties in Florida, so you can protect yourself if pulled over – and hopefully, stop yourself from getting behind the wheel in the first place.
DUI Penalties In Florida: The 101

Nearly 8,500 people are killed every year in Florida alone because of drunk driving – those numbers are part of what make the DUI penalties in Florida so high. And while websites and some places on the Internet might try to make light of the consequences of drunk driving, they’re anything but funny when they happen to you.

While these accidents happen year-round, statistics show that the 4th of July and other holidays have especially high rates of DUI’s – and fatalities that are a direct result of drunk driving.

Understanding DUI Penalties can be confusing. Three of the most basic things to get straight:

1. You are required to comply with a police order to take a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test – but, Florida’s “implied consent” law means that if you do refuse to comply with these requests, you’ll incur instant penalties, like losing your license for 1 year and getting slapped with a second-degree misdemeanor. When you sign your driver’s license, you’ve already given consent to submit to these tests if pulled over. If you refuse a second DUI test, your license will be suspended for 18 months.

2. There’s a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21 in Florida. If you’re underage and are found to have a blood-alcohol level of over .02%, your license will be suspended for 6 months (basically, that’s the equivalent of 1 drink.)

3. .08% is the legal limit for adults – anything higher will incur DUI penalties in Florida. However, know that if you’re caught drinking and driving a commercial vehicle, you can be charged with a DUI if your Blood Alcohol Content is over .04%.

Now that you know the basics surrounding DUI penalties in Florida, let’s take a look at some of the next steps.

What Else You Need to Know

DUI Penalties in Florida go way beyond the 3 violations listed above. Let’s take a look at other forms and facts in this bulleted list.

1. If you’re pulled over and drunk, you can still be charged with DUI penalties in Florida: You only have to have “physical control” over your car – meaning that even if you’re asleep, the law still sees you as being capable of waking up and returning to driving while drunk.

2. Even if you refuse to give consent to a blood test, police officers can still force you to give one. Let’s be clear: this only applies to serious DUI cases, in which someone has been severely harmed or killed. Officers can order medical professionals to use minimal force to administer your blood test – so it’s really best to go ahead and comply with the request and incur the resulting penalties.

3. If you’re looking at your second DUI conviction, laws mandate that an ignition interlock be installed in your vehicle. Sometimes, though, first offenders can also have an ignition interlock installed in their cars. You’ll be responsible for paying for the device in the majority of cases, and you’ll also have to foot the bill for its installation in your car.

  • You’ll have to take your device to a calibration facility each month, which eats up time and money. In some cases, part of your fine may be allocated to pay for your ignition interlock device if you can’t afford it.

  • The device works by having the convicted driver breath into the device, so that it measures your Blood Alcohol Content and sends it to the Florida DMV every time you get behind the wheel of your vehicle. If you don’t do it, the car won’t turn on. Then, it can beep about once every half hour, instructing you to breathe into it again.

DUI Penalties in Florida: The Fines, Time, and Legal Consequences Laid Out

When it comes to DUI penalties, we know the real questions on everyone’s mind have to do with the time and money aspects of punishment. But think beyond that – don’t forget to take into consideration what the establishment of a criminal record or an addition to an existing rap sheet can do to your future.

For first convictions, most DUI penalties are as follows:

  • You’ll likely be fined anywhere from $250 to $500

  • You may be asked to perform a minimum of 50 hours of community service

  • You may be put on probation for a maximum of 1 year

  • You’ll likely have to attend a DUI school for about 12 hours

  • Your license will be revoked – no questions – for a minimum of 180 days

  • If you’ve been driving drunk with a minor in the car, you may be imprisoned for no more than 9 months – if your Blood Alcohol Content was also more than .08% at the time of the incident.

  • You could be put in jail for up to 6 months

These are only the DUI penalties for first-time offenders. For a complete list of the legal consequences for second (or even third) time convictions, please visit the website of the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles.

Who Can I Contact to Represent Me if I’ve Been Charged with A DUI?

No matter how high your DUI rises in the Florida court system, you need someone you can count on to advocate for you and help you to understand what the court has decided and how you’re legally required to proceed.

For more information, if you’re currently seeking representation, or if you’d just like to continue to inform yourself about the laws surrounding DUI Penalties in Florida, please feel free to visit our website, get in touch with one of us to set up a consultation, or simply to read our blog.